NFL New York Jets

Nick Mangold Anchors New York Jets’ Improving Offensive Line in 2014

Getty Images

Getty Images

It’s not easy being an offensive lineman in the NFL. Sure they don’t have a complicated job like some of the other high profile positions, but those battles in the trenches  are not a whole lot of fun. The New York Jets have a solid group up-front that protects its quarterback and provides running lanes for its running backs, and it starts with its center Nick Mangold.

When the Jets took Mangold in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft, the team knew that he had the chance to be a great lineman in the league. Well, the Jets were right because the now 30-year-old Mangold is a five-time Pro-Bowler and three-time All-Pro. He is the captain of the line along with D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and they are the two longest tenured Jets that start on the offensive line.

The big guys on the line don’t get a lot of recognition and that is a good thing. If your number is being called, it is often on a penalty that is costing your team some big plays and the result could mean some negative yards. Last season the Jets had some guys that had their number called a good amount and in 2014 it hopes for more improvement and consistency.

In 2013, the Jets had some shaky line-play against the pass as it finished No. 6 overall with sacks allowed (47) and No. 9 in QB hits allowed (98). One area it did prove to be strong was in the run game where it was ranked No. 6 in rushing yards as a team (2,158). We know that the Jets are known for rushing attack, but if the team wants to have a well-balanced and successful offense, then it needs to improve in pass protection.

Right now the Jets need veteran Willie Colon to get healthy and Brian Winters to bounce back from his sub-par season in 2013. The Jets let tackle Austin Howard walk in free agency to the Oakland Raiders, so it has some uncertainty at the tackle spot opposite of Ferguson. The team did bring in tackle and former Seattle Seahawk Breno Giacomini, so the team has yet to be seen if he can gel with his new line-mates before the season starts.

The Jets want to improve on their pass game, but it all starts with the offensive line. If the line is in sync, then it is good news for the Jets through the air, but if they struggle, it will be hard to be one of the top passing offenses. It all starts with the guys upfront, and even though they go unnoticed at times, they play a pretty big role in the Jets success.

Vinny Lanni is a New York Jets writer for RantSports.com. He also adds to the site’s NBA, MLB and NFL content. Follow him on Twitter or add him to your network on Google.